1408 (2007)

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Ranked #514
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Hacked off with his miserable life, the quasi-successful author of spine-chilling ghost stories, Mike Enslin, makes a living debunking supernatural events by visiting sites of reported paranormal activity. Profoundly cynical, Enslin receives an anonymous postcard warning him not to check into the mysterious room 1408 of Manhattan's Dolphin Hotel, of course, only to spark his suspicious interest. Intrigued, Mike chooses to ignore the hotel manager's insistent warnings of the evil room's grave dangers--and after packing his spirit-detecting gear--he boldly enters a secret realm of bizarre occurrences and surreal instances. Will Room 1408 make for an excellent final chapter in skeptic Mike's new novel? --IMDb
John Cusack
John Cusack
Tony Shalhoub
Tony Shalhoub
Len Cariou
Len Cariou
Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Jasmine Jessica Anthony
Jasmine Jessica Anthony
Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 24, 2007
Stephen King has been the victim of some pretty lame adaptations. The last decent King adaptation came in 1999 with the Academy Award nominated "The Green Mile". Since then, we've been given schlock like "Hearts In Atlantis", "Dreamcatcher", "Secret Window" and probably the very worst Stephen King adaptation ever - "Riding the Bullet". Back in the 1980's, King was the hottest writer on the planet and his books were usually turned into films before they ever hit book shelves. John Carpenter had already started production on "Christine" before the book was even released. Even King's dramatic work, like "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Dolores Clairborne" caught fire, turning him into the most successful writer in the world. Then came J.K. Rowling and the "Harry Potter" franchise, and King became just another writer - more specifically, just another horror writer. After his near-death experience after being hit by a car, King's work turned more bizarre and more introspective and he has still yet to re-capture his tone or his audience. "1408" is based on a short story by Stephen King, and it's the best adaptation of one of his works since "The Green Mile" and one of the most faithful adaptations ever to be bestowed upon the author.

After the death of his daughter, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) becomes obsessed with the paranormal, and becomes a famous author on the subject of ghosts. We first meet him as he is completing his next novel, '10 Haunted Hotels'. Enslin, however, doesn't believe in ghosts because he's never seen one before. In fact, Mike Enslin doesn't believe in anything. One day, however, he receives a small postcard from the Dolphin Hotel in New York City, with the words 'Don't Stay In 1408' scribbled on the back of the postcard. When he calls, he is told he cannot stay in the room. His curiosity and the persistence of his publisher (Tony Shalhoub) take him to New York City, where he checks into the Dolphin Hotel, after a meeting with manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson), who explains the bloody and terrifying history of the hotel, most notably Room 1408. It turns out 56 people have died in the room, from suicide, drowning, stabbing and natural causes. Olin tries desperately to persuade Enslin from staying in the room, but the more he tells him about the dangers, the more Enslin believes it to be an elaborate set-up. So, Enslin enters 1408, and that's where the story begins. The room has more in store for Mike Enslin than he could ever imagine.

First off, "1408" was directed by Mikael Hafstrom, the brilliant filmmaker behind "Evil", which was released a couple of years ago about a German boarding school. He is one of the most creative and exploratory filmmakers working today and he makes use of some of the most interest visual styles and camera angles I have seen in a while, and they all add to the overwhelming sense of terror in the film. It was nice to see a film that didn't have to rely on torture or nudity or excessive blood and gore to scare the hell out of an audience. "1408" is very much a traditional haunted house story that relies on the idea of what's not there - the idea that this terrifying thing is happening and there is no explanation and no escape. The exteriors of the room are brilliantly transformed from one scene to the next, and by the end of the film, it looks nothing like the original room, but still feels exactly the same. Gabriel Yared composed the music for the film, and it is perfectly timed to the tempo and mood fo the motion picture. Hafstrom's directorial pacing and storytelling devices lull the audience into a false sense of security before something else happens to knock you off your feet. And, I must stress again that this is all done with minimal visual effects and very little blood. It reminded me of "The Haunting" in how it relied on man's imagination and man's sense of the horrific.

In, essentially, a one man show - John Cusack is stellar as Mike Enslin. Unlike most horror films, "1408" gives Cusack a chance to display all of his ranges as an actor. We get his trademark sarcasm and sense of humor, but we also get reminded of how amazing a dramatic actor Cusack tends to be, under the right circumstances. This is one of those circumstances. Cusack has a traumatic scene towards the end of the film, where he loses something all over again - and it's probably one of the most horrific scenes in the film. It certainly shows how evil the room is, in all its terror. Cusack is manic, passionate, hilarious, pitiful and downright desperate throughout the film, and he carries "1408" on his very capable shoulders. Samuel L. Jackson serves his purpose well as the somewhat creepy and very informative manager of the Dolphin Hotel, and Mary McCormack is nice as Enslin's ex-wife, who pops up now and again through flashbacks and present day events. Even Tony Shalhoub pops up as Mike's publisher, in a role that could have gone to anyone, but they chose to attach a name actor to it and make it all the more believable and all the more enjoyable.

Honestly - I don't think I've seen a horror film this affective in years. "The Descent" was amazing, but for different reasons - it was a balls to the wall, leave it all outside horror film. "1408" is more intellectual - it is more atmosphere and creaky boards. "1408" is the finest horror film of 2007, and one of the best Stephen King adaptations I have seen yet. Hafstrom and his team took a very short novella and added depth and drama and all sorts of 'things that go bump in the night'. I would not have expected this from the early trailers, but I see now why critics are enjoying the film so much. It's not your typical horror film in that it is your typical horror film. It's what horror was originally intended to be, before the days of "The Exorcist" and "Saw". "1408" doesn't work unless you have the imagination and the sense of humanity to make it work. If you do, then some of these scenes will jump from being 'scary' to absolutely terrifying. I thoroughly recommend this film to anyone and everyone who has a chance to see it. It's nothing short of absolutely wonderful.

Chad #1: Chad - added 06/24/2007, 02:37 AM
Evil was absolutely amazing, and although I haven't seen this one yet, it's good to see that the man wasn't a one-trick pony. Definitely looking forward to this, even more so after this review.
Edd #2: Edd - added 06/24/2007, 10:15 AM
It's rare that a 2000 and beyond Stephen King movie is translated so well to film. Great stuff. 10/10
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 07/08/2007, 11:36 AM
Holy hell. 10/10
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 10/22/2007, 08:02 PM
Pretty good. Pissed by the lack of Samuel L., but that's forgivable.
As with alot of his adaptations, I liked this one better than the story by leaps and bounds. 8.1/10
Chad #5: Chad - added 12/16/2007, 10:22 PM
meanie - have you seen the director's cut yet? Based on what I've read, the theatrical ending was completely different (no spoilers here, but I'm sure you know where to find them), and in fact, it sounds absolutely lame compared to the DC. Anywho, the DC is the version I saw, and I loved it. 10/10.
Rik #6: Rik - added 07/31/2008, 02:57 PM
The fright factor in this movie definitely worked. If there was a Hell, 1408 would be it. Just a question... what's Cusack's look in the poster?
Nirrad #7: Nirrad - added 12/16/2008, 10:47 PM
Simply fantastic. 10/10
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